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Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) continued his remarkable 2023 season with a dominant victory in the bunch sprint on stage 1 of the Renewi Tour in Ardooie. The Belgian delivered a powerful effort to claim the spoils ahead of Tim Merlier (Soudal-QuickStep) and Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma).
Arnaud De Lie (Lotto-Dstny) opened the sprint from distance, but he had Philipsen parked on his wheel in the final kilometre, and the man of the moment would cruise to a commanding win to claim the overall lead.
De Lie, whose new, long-term deal with Lotto-Dstny was announced on Wednesday morning, had to settle for fourth place, while Dylan Groenewegen (Jayco-Alula) took fifth ahead of Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates).
Few races on the calendar command a sprint field of this depth, though there were some notable absentees from the eventual mass finish. Sam Welsford (Team dsm-firmenich) crashed just inside the final 2km, while Arnaud Démare, now in Arkéa-Samsic colours after his transfer from Groupama-FDJ, was also held up in the incident, though he at least avoided hitting the ground.
In the sprint, Merlier appeared to finish quicker than anyone, but the former Belgian champion had to come from a long, long way back, and he ran out of road without ever looking like getting on the terms with Philipsen, who notched up his 11th win of the season.
“It was hectic, but my team kept me in good position, they protected me well and that was the key to success today,” Philipsen said.
More to follow…
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